Thursday, 3 March 2011

'Massive Challenge' for Midlands Council

The council will have to make 'gargantuan savings'

By Ben Aulakh

One of the Midlands biggest council’s is going to have to meet the ‘gargantuan challenge’ of making £212 million of savings on services in the next year.

Leader of Birmingham City Council Mike Whitby made the statement during a speech presenting the city’s budget for 2011/2012.

Admitting the scale of the task ahead of the city, he promised that ‘it is a challenge that we are well equipped to meet.’

The local authority, which serves more than a million people, will have to find economies of more than £200 million this year, in addition to around £300 million over the next three years.

Cllr Whitby echoed the sentiments of Chancellor George Osborne in stating that ‘tackling the deficit is unavoidable, however the choices about how we do that are not, we do have choices.’

The local authority plans to cut the number of back office staff by at least 30% and reduce the number of senior managers by at least a third.

They have also vowed to drive down the use of agency workers, overtime and consultants.

Cllr Whitby added that over the last 12 months over 1,800 staff have left Birmingham City Council, 
with relatively few of these through compulsory redundancy.

Deputy Council Leader Paul Tilsley said, “We have to play the hand we have been dealt, and have come up with the best budget we could in these challenging economic circumstances.

“We will ensure that essential services get the best funding possible along with fresh investment in modernisation projects that will enable the city to thrive in the years ahead.”

The council also plans to make local communities provide some key city services, as well as increasing the number of local authority contracts provided by private sector firms.

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